Considering high room and board costs, students try to maximize their use of Mills’ resources. This has not only meant taking advantage of the usual goods and services the College provides, but also reverting to what some might consider to be stealing and dishonest borrowing.
Karen Maggio, associate vice president of Campus Facilities and Building Maintenance, said stealing has not been as big of a problem this year as it has been in the past.
“I’m really pleased with the way the community is taking care of things,” she said.
Borrowing, however, continues to be a problem at Mills.
On Oct. 10, two of the brushed aluminum chairs from the courtyard of the new Natural Sciences building went missing and over three and a half weeks later they were found in a nearby computer lab.
Like the chairs, Maggio said that much of the furniture that goes missing at Mills is later discovered on other parts of campus. However, furniture is not always recovered and in a posting in Student News, Maggio said, “What message would it send about our community if we have to cable and lock down furniture?”
When furniture is stolen from residence halls, the residents of that hall are charged equally to cover the costs of replacing it. This is not the case for furniture stolen from other parts of the school.
“If we don’t have the budget to replace it, then it’s not replaced; it’s gone,” Maggio said.
This is why many of the school’s antiques, including candlesticks, vases, and silverware, have been put into storage; too much of it has disappeared while on display. “Those are things you can’t replace,” Maggio said. “Now they’re no longer here for the benefit of the rest of the community.”
Furniture is only a part of the history of stealing and borrowing on the Mills campus. Although the list of stolen items includes Smoky Joe cigarette holders and pool sticks and cues from Café Suzie, food and cutlery thefts are perhaps the most popular and consistent.
According to Director of Auxiliary Services Dorothy Calimeris, Founders’ food service was a little different in the early 1980’s. Students were waited-on by fellow students and they dined using real silverware and china. It was also during this time that Calimeris said students would brag about having enough Mills china in their room for “service for eight.”
Food, however, is a sticky fingers item that is replaceable.
Founders has a one item to-go policy, but Calimeris said that some students go beyond the reaches of this allowance. The list of items she has had to confiscate from students includes everything from loaves of bread, sacks of granola and water bottles filled with soda.
According to Calimeris, when food is confiscated, it is thrown away.
Junior Jenny Safreno, who said she does not steal from Founders, pointed out that not taking food to go can be just as wasteful.
“We’re giving them less garbage,” she said. “It’s a matter of perspective.”
Calimeris said she feels some students steal just to see how much they can get away with. “It’s a game for a lot of people,” she said.
Calimeris said some students feel the food is free because they have already paid for it, which gives them a sense of entitlement to the extra food they take.
Junior Amal Gaada shares this sentiment. “Technically we already paid for it, so it’s not stealing,” she said.
Clara Andres, a Masters of Business Administration student, said that people often do not steal when they can afford goods themselves.
“You steal because of market failures,” she said.
She pointed out that there is no competition for the newly contracted Bon Appetit food service and therefore, high dining costs at the college are due to the “monopoly” on the College’s food.
Regardless of their reasons for stealing, Maggio and Calimeris agreed that students should realize the consequences of their actions. Stealing could result in having the luxury of self-service revoked at the future Rothwell dining center or it could mean that students miss out on new furniture for the Mills community.